AUGUSTA — Foxcroft Academy had fairly high expectations for itself at Saturday’s state wrestling championships after posting the top score at the Class C qualifying meet a week earlier.
But even the Ponies’ expectations didn’t match what became reality at the Augusta Civic Center — the program’s first Class C title since 2005.
“Looking back at the beginning of the season, we thought we had a pretty tough team, but we didn’t expect this,” said Foxcroft’s Wesley Stinson, who won the 152-pound individual title. “This is a great accomplishment.”
Stinson and Mark Smith (112) were the Ponies’ lone weight-class winners, but depth and some early round upsets enabled the Ponies to build a lead Lisbon couldn’t overcome despite winning five individual state championships.
Foxcroft finished with 128 points, with Lisbon (122), Dirigo of Dixfield (120), Dexter (94) and Fort Kent (86) also placing among the top five.
“I knew what we did last week was a different scenario from this week,” said Foxcroft coach Luis Ayala. “I knew it was going to be close, but I had us finishing third.
“But I’ve got a young bunch of kids who worked hard and believed what we said, and hard work pays off.”
Trevor Weymouth (125), Zac Smith (160) and Cory Bjornson-Weismore (171) each placed second for Foxcroft, while Alex Francis (130) and Forrest Law (135) picked up thirds and Todd Francis (145) added a fourth.
The key to the Ponies’ championship run may have been forged much earlier in the day, when Alex Francis upset top-ranked Adam Gill of Dirigo with a first-round pin and Bjornson-Weismore upset highly regarded Nelson Pepin of Dirigo in the second round.
Those wins served to stunt Dirigo’s own title hopes while giving Foxcroft the extra points it needed.
“We had some guys, some underclassmen, who showed up and shocked,” said Stinson, himself just a sophomore. “They weren’t seeded high, but they followed through for the team and got us to where we are now. It was a surprise, for sure.”
Foxcroft also got help from a neighboring school, as Jerry Prabhakaram of Piscataquis of Guilford surprised Lisbon’s Zach Stevens 7-5 in a first-round match at 112. Prabhakaram, a senior exchange student from India, had never wrestled competitively until this season, yet went on to place fourth in his weight class for coach Tom Cyr’s Pirates.
“That was big for us,” said Ayala. “Jerry’s improved so much this year.”
Lisbon dominated the lower weight classes, getting individual titles from Nick McNamara (103), Forrest Cornell (119), Josh Pomerleau (125), Mike McNamara (135) and Matt Nicholson (140). But when the Greyhounds, who trailed Foxcroft by 23 points entering the championship finals, could only get three pins in those five victories, the Ponies clinched the title by the time Nicholson’s 4-0 decision over Bucksport’s Jacob Stewart was complete.
There’s a couple of things we probably could have done better,” said Lisbon coach Mark Stevens. “We knew we had to get pins in the first couple of rounds, and there were a couple of times when we didn’t get them. We also knew we had five kids who could win championships and had the potential to score 30 points in the finals, but it was a little too late and Foxcroft really showed up today.”
Cornell, named the outstanding Class C wrestler of the meet, became Lisbon’s first four-time state champion by decisioning Dirigo’s Caleb Hall 3-0.
Other Class C champions were Scott Carpenter of Calais, who earned his third state title by winning at 130 pounds, Eric Coulombe of Monmouth Academy (145), D.J. Webber of Dirigo (160), Nathan Philbrook (171) and C.J. Stratton (285) of Penobscot Valley of Howland, Chris Powell of Bucksport (189) and Zac Ragot of Washington Academy of East Machias, who became the first wrestler in school history to score his 100th career victory by winning the 215-pound final.